Howes & Howes, Attorneys at Law

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Marijuana Possession:  Frequently asked questions

Our attorneys have extensive experience in the New Jersey municipal courts as private defense counsel.  Additionally, our attorneys have been appointed as municipal prosecutor and as municipal court judge.  The following are the most frequently asked questions related to marijuana charges.

1.  What is the worst-case scenario for an adult over eighteen who is convicted of simple possession of marijuana?
Possession of marijuana under fifty grams is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey.  The state prosecutes cases of simple possession of marijuana in the municipal courts.  The maximum penalty upon conviction is six months in jail.  In addition, there are over $500 in penalties and surcharges, together with a drivers license suspension of between six months and two years.  Possession of marijuana over fifty grams is an indictable offense and is prosecuted in Superior Court.  (See white collar and criminal defense.)

2.  What is a conditional discharge?
A conditional discharge is a diversionary program available to most first-time offenders who are charged with possession of marijuana under fifty grams.  The conditions of a conditional discharge are simple.  First, the offender must remain offense-free for the duration of the conditional discharge (usually six months or one year).  Second, the offender must remain offense free, and is subject to random drug testing.  If you successfully complete the conditional discharge, then there will be no record of a conviction in your criminal history. 

3.  What if I am arrested with marijuana in a motor vehicle?
There is a separate charge in the motor vehicle code for possession of drugs in a motor vehicle.  Upon conviction of this offense, there is a mandatory two-year drivers license suspension.  In other words, if you lose at trial, the judge has no choice but to take your license for two years.

4.  There was pot in the car (or in the room) that wasn’t in my possession and didn’t belong to me.  I was arrested and charged with possession.  Can the police do that?
Yes.  If there is marijuana in a car or a room that is in a common area accessible to all, and no one takes responsibility for it, the police can and will charge everyone in the room or the car with possession.  The legal concept is called “joint, constructive possession”.  Our attorneys have tried many constructive possession cases.  There are defenses to constructive possession cases.  You should consult an attorney.

5.  What about medical marijuana?
Some states allow physicians to prescribe marijuana for certain medicinal purposes.  New Jersey is not one of those states.  New Jersey does not allow medicinal use of marijuana.  As such, the medicinal use of marijuana will not excuse a marijuana charge in New Jersey.

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